The Ukrainian national parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, recently adopted a new framework law on education that brings the system closer to European standards. The European Training Foundation (ETF) provided advice and support on key aspects such as the decentralisation of vocational education, lifelong learning and quality assurance.
The ETF’s roving reporter, Nick Holdsworth, is finding out how this is helping to increase the attractiveness of vocational education and training (VET).
Kateryna Miroshnychenko, deputy head of VET at Ukraine’s Ministry of Education, smiles when asked about the state of skills training in her country. ‘VET is moving from being a joke, to a regional powerhouse with devolved finances and responsibilities,’ she says, referring to Ukraine’s ambitious program to devolve responsibility from central government to regional authorities.
For many years, VET in Ukraine has reminded her of the old joke, she says: A man goes to his doctor and says: ‘Everybody keeps ignoring me.’ The doctor looks up and curtly announces: ‘Next!’
It is an image that is familiar to many – institutional and societal bias towards university education and low expectations of VET students and teachers has hampered progress in policy and practice reform.
All that is changing as European Union leaders recognise the importance of vocational education in providing the skilled workers a rapidly evolving labour market demands, where most jobs demand versatile, responsible, motivated and skilled workers.
As part of its commitment to major economic, industrial, and educational policy reform under the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Trade Agreement and Association Agreement, Ukraine is embarking on an unprecedented programme of devolving responsibility for VET to the regions.
Working closely with the ETF, government ministers and key social partners have drawn up a Green Paper to help ensure the new law on vocational education and training addresses key measures essential to the success of the reforms.
- harmonising decision-making powers at national, regional, local and school levels to ensure good multi-level VET governance
- optimising regional VET networks
- rationalisation of VET schools through closures and mergers
- greater autonomy in staff recruitment
- encouraging public-private partnerships involving employers, professional bodies, business associations, industry federations and the public
If they get these reforms right, a lean, flexible and responsive VET system delivered locally via Ukraine’s 25 (including Kyiv) regions offers the promise to be a key driver for economic growth and business development.
But failure could set back reform by years.
Stay tuned for Pt.2.